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August 31, 2007

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JackG't

Having ready web access to legal resources, including state codes, is a boon to blogging and blog commenting. I gather that nearly all legal professionals and legal scholars have extensive remote access to legal resources including state codes. Web users who do not have accounts that permit online access to needed legal resources are somewhat hindered in their efforts to follow legal affairs, to blog (although usually not as scholars) and comment on legal matters, and even to attempt basic legal self-help. When a state legislature transfers or sells to a private corporation the management of that state's electronic gateway to its legal code, and when as a result access to the state's full legal code through a state web site becomes restricted, some of those who want or need access to the state code are hindered.

Some states now have LexisNexis administering access to their respective state code. In Georgia, access to the complete state code was once available at the General Assembly's web site; now the visitor is transferred to a LexisNexis log-in page. The log-in page has no instructions telling those without accounts whether or how they might obtain one.

Expression of concern about lack of electronic access to the full state code might be met by the response that the concerned citizen need only use a GALILEO account as a registered patron of a public library. Aside from any inconvenience that might be involved in doing so, there is the issue of privacy. Any research effort that the registered user makes can be indexed to his name.

One would think that our legislators would want us to be familiar with the law. Ironically, there are even recently passed election laws with which the public are expected to be familiar.

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